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A Survival Story of Michael and Natlik-bookcover

By: Peter Comerford

A Survival Story of Michael and Natlik

Pages: 146 Ratings: 5.0
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Michael’s holiday on a tiny offshore island in Papua New Guinea, where his uncle owned a copra and cocoa plantation, was like an exciting dream. It was there that he became friends with Natlik, his uncle’s house servant who taught him to spear fish, recognise poisonous plants and corals and to light a fire without matches.

However, an incredible boating and fishing trip with his uncle suddenly turned into a nightmare when disaster struck. Michael was left floundering in shark-infested waters off the coast of Southern New Ireland. When Michael failed to return home from the fishing trip, Natlik, using his sharp powers of observation and tracking skills is faced with a risky and dangerous trip across sea and through jungle to try and find his young friend.

Peter Comerford was born and educated in Sydney. He completed his teacher training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in 1970, specifically to teach in Papua New Guinea. He taught at Madina and Utu High Schools in New Ireland and Popondetta High School in Oro Province. Moreover,  he served as Principal of Panguna International Primary School on Bougainville. Yet, due to civil unrest and the closure of the giant Panguna copper mine, Peter returned to Sydney with his family in 1990. Before his retirement Peter was Head of Primary at Redfield College in Sydney.

Customer Reviews
3 reviews
3 reviews
  • Lou Ware

    This richly layered and fast paced story will keep young readers on the edge of their seats.
    With adventure, survival, courage, and the power of friendship being its key themes, the book will fire the imagination of readers, keeping them invested in the fate of the main characters.

  • Robin Roberts

    This book had me eager to keep turning the pages to see how Michael managed his isolation and following his fight for survival. The descriptive passages made it easy to create mental images of the many pitfalls faced by the 11 year old Michael and how he coped with them.
    I certainly recommend this book to young readers and anybody who enjoys an adventure. As an adult, this book held appeal to me as an insight into the harsh conditions found in many tropical places. I would have liked a small sketched map of the area to give a greater understanding of the distance travelled but that does not detract from the book in any way - just a personal preference!

  • james Burfitt

    Peter Comerford has had a life-long love affair with New Guinea, Bougainville and the local people from this magical part of the globe. He taught there for many years, was able to indulge his naturalist and anthropological gifts including the learning of a number of local languages. This vital relationship is abundantly evident A Survival Story of Michael and Natlik. Comerford effortlessly creates a setting that is as authentic as it is enthralling. His depiction of the pace of life, the human and natural landscapes and the enthusiasm and wonder of a little boy new to this world draw us in and hold our attention throughout.
    The plot moves at a crisp pace and should grab young readers from the start. It follows a young Australian boy travelling to an island off the north coast of New Guinea for a holiday with his uncle who runs a local planation. The world that Michael steps into is stunning beautiful but also dangerous: the danger posed by large sharks, snakes, deadly currents is a fact of life. Luckily, he has his uncle’s right hand man, Natlik, to show him the ropes. The two hit it off from the start and the boy devours the bushcraft on offer from an old hand.
    What starts as a holiday story in an exotic location transforms into a survival tale that is raw and, challenging. The shift jars. There are no hints of what is to come. Things happen and we have to adjust to seeing Michael under threat and being challenged by the hard edge of the world of adults, but with no adults there to show him the way.
    After a long career as a primary teacher, particularly of boys, it is hardly surprising that Comerford’s Michael is very much a real boy, one of impressive resilience but, at the same time, sensitive and vulnerable. He is an easy kid to like and, despite the extraordinary challenges he has to surmount, someone many young readers will find easy to identify with.
    As the title suggests the book gives significant focus to Natlik and his role in the adventure alongside Michael. Comerford was never going to present a story about a young white boy's adventure in the tropics using the local people and their world as mere backdrops.
    The New Guinea-Bougainville area, the setting of “A Survival Story of Michael and Natlik” gets short shrift, at least in mainstream Australia, despite its proximity. This book serves as a small but positive step in addressing this lamentable situation while presenting a great tale that held me captive from start to end.

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